What are “women’s issues”? What does it mean to be a woman?
Your answer to that question might change drastically, depending on other parts of your identity. Are you a white woman? A black woman? A recent immigrant? An indigenous woman? A poor or wealthy woman? A transgender woman or a cisgender woman? An old or young woman? A woman with a physical or mental health condition that impacts your daily life? A straight woman? A lesbian? What if you’re a man? What is your role in gender justice
We believe that intersectionality must be at the core of social justice work.
Intersectionality describes the way that various forms of oppression overlap or intersect with each other, affecting the impacts of privilege and oppression on individual people. Every person experiences multiple forms of privilege and/or oppression, based on their social identities (i.e. race, class, gender, ability, etc.). Our experiences of one type of oppression often intersect with or amplify our experiences of other types of oppression. For example, being a Latina undocumented woman means that you are targeted by racism and xenophobia, nationalism, and sexism. You may have privilege in other ways, such as being straight and cis-gendered. Throughout our lives, we learn social behaviors and attitudes that reflect our complex identities, our experiences of privilege and oppression. To think intersectionally is to recognize that no person’s experience defines that of all others in the same identity category. To act intersectionally is to intentionally include multiple voices in collaborative efforts, to speak from your own experiences and honor the wisdom of others in naming their own experiences.
The concept of intersectionality was originally created by black feminist scholars Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw and Patricia Hill Collins, to name the experiences of women of color within feminist spaces dominated by middle-class white women. They saw white feminists promoting a universalizing narrative of “women’s issues” that left out the ways that racism and classism impact some women differently than others.